Living With Cancer: The Cost of Trials

“Living With Cancer: The Cost of Trials,” by Susan Gubar, The New York Times Well Blog.

A recent CT scan made me realize that the clinical trial extending my life effectively excludes all but the most privileged cancer patients.

The trial exacts large expenses: it requires that people have periodic scans and does not pay for them. How could patients who are under-insured or not insured at all be included in such a clinical trial? How could people working for the minimum wage afford $18,268 a year for CTs? If the trial were in a remote hospital, travel and lodging would raise that price tag, as would the need to take days off from work for recurrent blood tests.

Now I understand why low-income patients are underrepresented in cancer trials, although they bear a disproportionate burden of cancer mortality. For economic status is of course a barrier not only to trials but also, more alarmingly, to detection and treatment.

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